Dana Mecum’s 31st Spring Classic Hosts Big Collections and Solid Sales
Dana Mecum’s 31st Spring Classic hosts big collections and solid sales
Dana Mecum’s big car auction in Indianapolis was both traditional and innovative this year, featuring healthy sell-through numbers (cars sold versus those that did not meet reserve) and some surprises. The month of May, of course, is a time that car guys from around the globe converge on the Indianapolis area for the 500-mile race. Indeed, Mecum Auctions works with the Speedway on promotions, and the company even sponsors an entry in the Indy 500 these days. However, for those of us who love more than the drama of the Brickyard’s four corners, it is the weekend before at the state fairgrounds that holds our attention.
This year the event simply known to many as Mecum Indy entailed six days and 2,200 cars, plus a large assortment of road art, memorabilia, and an immense collection of boating hardware from the estate of the late Jim Street. The truth is if you appreciate all things mechanical, there is something
“Every car in the group held multiple AACA and other event honors”
at this event that would likely fascinate you. From wood-sided station wagons and prewar classics to every form of muscle car you can imagine and on through today’s domestic and global exotics, someone is selling it through Mecum. This event is probably the bellwether for our car focus, with more than half of the lots being American performanceoriented cars. SC/Ramblers and Z/28s, Hemi ’Cudas and Boss Mustangs, 427 Galaxies and Stage 1 Buicks, all were here. And as always there were thrilling sales, some a little eyeopening.
Big Game Hunters
The event started Tuesday, and until the middle of Friday the top sales had been a prewar Packard, a nice 440-4 Superbird, and a new 2018 Demon, all under $250,000. An unrestored black 1969 Boss 429 crossed the block to hammer a very strong $423,500 right after noon, then came the Best of Show Collection. These were larger domestic supercars from the pre-1965 era—Chrysler 300s, high-finned Cadillacs, and their ilk (there was a 1964 GTO and a former Billy Gibbons–owned 1969 CJ Mustang as well). Powerful and beautiful, they would take 8 of those top 10 spots when the final car in this group sold. Top seller was a 1958 New Yorker with 392 Hemi power that commanded a $330,000 price (including premium). The Best of Show title was not braggadocio, as every car in the group held multiple AACA and other event honors. That GTO went to a new home for $176,000, and the Mustang convertible went back home despite a spirited climb that stopped at $190,000.
The Best of Show Collection was just one of more than 30 “special groupings” at this event. They offered some great opportunities, such as a 351ci 1970 Mach 1 that hammered sold at $35,200 during the obliquely named “A Special Offering at No Reserve” that started Thursday’s action, and $16,500 for a nice 1963 Impala SS with 327 power that was part of “A Maryland Classic Car
Collection” late on Wednesday. Most noteworthy of the noreserve offerings were several cars from California out of Tim Miller’s Surf City Garage Collection. Its popular models included nine GTOs and Judges, a handful of B-Body Mopars, and an assortment of classic Camaros, Corvettes, T-birds, and woodies. This group sold on Friday at very balanced prices for today’s marketplace, ranging between $34,100 and $101,200.
Saturday was for heavy hitters. Reggie Jackson had a number of cars from his collection, including a white 1969 Yenko Chevelle that Mr. September kept despite a $310,000 offer. Jackson did sell several of his Corvettes and other muscle cars. On that note, a complete collection of Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars sold as a single lot for $1.7 million on Saturday.
Behind the black Boss 429, the weekend’s top overall muscle car, other Boss and Shelby Mustangs on Saturday climbed into the healthiest price points for muscle cars this weekend. Including premiums, a second Boss 429 in red sold for $379,500, and $302,500 bought a 1967 G.T. 500 that had been off the market for 33 years. Beyond that were a few premium Mustangs that did not meet their reserves, as well as several more common examples that went to new homes for under $30,000. Of the other Fords offered here, three lightweight Galaxies sped to new garages at prices between $126,000 and $140,000.
The Dodge brand led the Hemi Chryslers with a Shaker-optioned 1970 Hemi Challenger selling for $264,000. A real
FM3 (Panther Pink) 1970 Challenger T/A soared to $198,000, a 440-cube 1969 Daytona once owned by Big Willie Robinson went to $203,500, and a survivor Hemi Charger from 1968 in rough but complete shape topped $132,000. While a couple of Plymouths were higher no-sales, the top seller was a 1970 ’Cuda at $198,000, followed by four Superbirds, all in white, which sold between $154,000 and $187,000. Several Mopars sold well under $50,000, even during prime sales hours; one was a real steel-nosed 426 Max Wedge 1964 Plymouth hardtop gaveled at $49,500.
Chevrolet prices were led by Corvettes, including the biggest no-sale of the event, a 1967 L88 model that didn’t change hands despite a $2.2 million offer. The top-selling Ca-
maro this year was a beautiful 1969 427 COPO RS at $198,000, and a 1970 LS6 Chevelle at $148,500 was the top seller for that model.
The other GMs were led by Mike Guarise’s Polar White 1970 Buick GS Stage 1 convertible, whose $184,250 led all Buick model sales by more than $100,000. Dr. Olds’ love machines capped at $121,000 for a black 1970 4-4-2 W-30 convertible, while the aforementioned 1964 GTO from the Best of Show collection topped the Indians at $176,000, with two others crossing the $100,000 threshold as well. Top AMC sale was $38,500 for a 1970 AMX.
It appears that prices are moderating right now. Premium examples that have sold at record prices were not a major factor here in 2018, the FM3 Challenger T/A perhaps being the big exception. Real Z/28s remain strong, with Mustang and Camaro models in general retaining their popularity as barometers of the muscle marketplace. Mopars may be softening a little, though only from the stratospheric prices generated during previous offerings of very special cars like convertibles.
Across all brands, motivated sellers were looking to find buyers, pulling reserves fairly early in many cases; and buyers had to have been happy with pricing compared to other years. That said, on average auction prices seemed to have found a leveling trend across the board at the moment. Stellar examples in each marque are still demanding a premium, and restomods were being bought cautiously but still changed ownership. There were also some very solid values on well-completed tribute cars. The larger cars were spectacular in condition and pricing but probably would not really be considered “muscle cars” in the traditional sense.
All in all, when the gavel fell for the final time on Sunday, Mecum Indy was a very enjoyable event. And if you are buying? Well, it might be time to consider that dream car.
n Among the surprises was this amazingly original 1968 Hemi Charger that had come in from Venezuela. An automatic showing 23,000 original kilometers (about 14,000 miles) and featuring the original engine, sheetmetal, paint, and interior, the highly optioned barn find sold for $132,000, likely to a buyer who will keep it as-is. Dana Mecum personally placed the Sold sticker on that front license plate to leave the dust on the windshield unmolested.
n As usual, real Z/28 Camaros are popular cars. Two crossed the $100,000 threshold this weekend. This Olympic Gold example, complete with the cross-ram SCCA intake layout and a matching white top/interior/stripe combination, sold Friday afternoon for $104,000.
n Not only were Boss Mustangs on hand, but a few them sold very well to help establish pricing at the 2018 Mecum Spring Classic. This beautiful Candy Apple Red example with numbers-matching driveline and fresh expert restoration sold for $379,500 on Saturday.
Seen here is Matt Wagoner out of Kansas and part of his collection of quality Stage 1 Buicks. Wagoner, like a number of collectors with multiple cars being offered this weekend, sold several both through the auction and via the Bid Goes On process.n One car that Wagoner did end up keeping was this amazing one-off 1970 example that had been specially built by GM for auto show use. Bidding closed at $120,000 for the car, which featured special paint and glass for indoor appearances.
n Late on Saturday, Oklahoma cowboy Connie Moore sold this J-code Shaker-optioned 429 CJpowered Torino convertible, a car he told us he had owned for more than 35 years and was largely original in terms of interior, driveline, and accessories. The rare Ford brought $74,250 on Saturday.n
n The so-called Duchess and Duke Daytona sold for $203,000 in its first public auction offering since a complete restoration. The 440ci version used for towing, and sole remaining wing representative of the late Big Willie and Tomiko Robinson’s legendary Los Angeles– based Brotherhood of Street Racers cars, the sale included Tomiko’s 1970s-era helmet. Both Hemi-powered examples the couple raced in the Street Racers glory days are believed destroyed.
n Here it is, the top-selling muscle car of the 31st Annual Spring Classic. This well-documented, mostly-original-condition1969 Boss 429 Mustang with a numbers-matching driveline, few prior owners, excellent provenance, and scarce original Raven Black paint climbed on Friday to sell for $423,500 against the high estimate of $375,000.
n Legendary muscle car collector Reggie Jackson, who was also quite legendary in baseball, shares some information on the cars he had for sale at the event with television announcer Bill Stephens. Jackson was among several celebrities who made the trek to Indy this year.
Of the E-Body Mopars, several Hemi versions climbed to solid heights, but the biggest surprise was the $198,000 generated by this very special 1970 Challenger T/A. The Challenger was estimated to sell at $155,000, but low mileage and cool options like the Dixco hood tach, the tag-coded FM3 Panther Pink paint, and the white interior were certainly major factors in the final value.n The gorgeous cars of Rob Blair were displayed in what was nicknamed the Gazillion Pavilion, the display hall for high-value cars. Blair took the reserve off his 1964 Max Wedge Plymouth Sport Fury, which then hammered sold for $49,500.
Shelby Mustangs were not in great quantity here, and by far the most impressive was this 1967 G.T. 500 featuring an eight-barrel 428 engine, documented history, long-term ownership, and a set of original tires after the first owner had added small-letter Goodyear 350 race versions. After spirited bidding erupted, the 23,000-mile rarity climbed to $302,500.n
If your preference was for a collector-level COPO, this gorgeous and Protect-O-Plate–documented RS was one of only 58 built in 1969 and had its factory numbers-matching L72 427-inch engine and desirable Hugger Orange paint. It hammered successfully at $198,000 during Saturday’s action. An associated COPO Camaro without the RS equipment in Le Mans Blue sold for $143,000 a moment later.n
n If you were looking for a driver, this correctly detailed GarnetRed 1969 Camaro with a red interior was dressed like a highly optioned four-speed ZL1 using a modern GM Racing 850-code block and correct accessories. Offered at no reserve, it brought a $51,200 final sale price on Saturday morning.n
This 1968 Cougar GT-E had been extensively refinished, with information noting a correctdisplacement 427 engine, albeit from 1964, and a donor body used to retrofit the damaged original. While it was perhaps not for a purist, someone wanted the head-turner enough to pay a solid $49,500. Just 356 factory models were created. This model was the final factory installation of the 427ci W-code engine.n If somebody looked for the equivalent of a press ringer, those cars built for magazine test duty back in the day with a “little more power,” this 1966 4-4-2 equipped with a 425ci Rocket in place of the 400 and rare one-year L69 tri-power would be hard to top. Refinished to otherwise factory condition, this car went to a new owner for $52,250.
n Reggie Jackson has owned this 1969 Yenko Chevelle for many years, and few of these rare midsize dual-COPO cars ever come up for auction. An older restoration with a post-Yenko-sale-installed horseshoe shifter and console, the car went back to Jackson’s collection despite a closing bid that reached a massive $310,000.n
n Mike Guarise brought in four cars from his long-established collection and sold them all. This 1966 GTO convertible, painted Charcoal Blue and equipped with an upgraded WS-code TriPower engine, had not been on the market since an extensive restoration. It hammered sold for $77,000.
n Hardcore Mopar guys know what that M in the VIN’s fifth spot stands for: 440 power. This real 1969 Dart GTS with monster Magnum power was beautifully conditioned, featuring B5 Blue paint and excellent trim. Somebody stepped up, and the closing price for the A-Body was $69,300.
n With a Mecum “SOLD!” sticker on the window, Mike Guarise’s 1-of-1 Glacier White/BurnishedSaddle-interior Buick GS Stage 1 rolled out of the fairgrounds’ soaring Art Deco–design auction hall into daylight. A purchase price of $184,250 is a sign of the healthy present marketplace.